A few weeks ago, on a plane trip from Austin to Denver, I put aside my book, closed my inbox, and sat with my headphones in my ears. No sound, just quiet. We’d just wrapped Firefly’s tenth annual staff retreat and I was feeling full to the brim … in a really good way.
That quiet gave me an opportunity to reflect on the ten years since I founded Firefly – in my garage, with a laptop, a cell phone, and a couple of nonprofit clients needing help with Convio tools.
I was optimistic about what I could bring to these nonprofits. After nearly ten years at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, I knew what worked (and what didn’t) when it came to both the consultant-client relationship and the strategic use of digital tools.
My number one goal back in 2008? I never wanted a small nonprofit to feel as if they couldn’t use the power of digital tools to further their mission. Yes, I wanted to be able help them build great things and produce outstanding results, but I also wanted to teach them how to use these tools themselves as much as possible. I wanted to share what others had taught me about fundraising, messaging, search engine optimization, and building online communities. I wanted each Firefly client to feel smarter and better equipped for their job when we ended a meeting. I wanted them to drive the technology that would help them meet their goals rather than be pulled along by it.
I’m proud to say that in the last decade – during ups, downs, expansion, and contraction – I’ve been lucky enough to welcome dozens of team members to the Firefly family who embrace the same passion for the nonprofit community and live their commitment to sharing knowledge like I do.
Of course, none of Firefly’s success could have been possible without the 400+ organizations that have trusted our team to direct them, plan with them, and support them. It has been nothing short of thrilling to watch “accidental techies” grow into seasoned digital professionals who look to Firefly as a strategic partner in the digital wilderness and welcome the unique balance of ambition and pragmatism that we bring to each partnership.
As I was sitting on that plane, probably somewhere over Oklahoma, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the voice that tells me I have no idea what the next ten years will look like.
But I’m sure as long as we continue to live our values – to be curious about the world, to be authentic in our relationships, to do the right thing, and to deliver work we’re proud of every day – we’ll still be here in another ten years, partnering with nonprofits to create a socially responsible and just world using the power of digital technology.